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Jonathan Park 

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The AA is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former tutor Jonathan Park. This obituary is provided by Deborah Loth, a long-term friend of Jonathan’s -

Jonathan Park and I were introduced by the sculptor Barry Flanagan in the mid 80s. Jonathan had come to London with a Cambridge degree in mechanical sciences in 1964. His day job as an engineer with Ove Arup and Partners, and later Arup Associates, did not prevent his enthusiastic participation in London’s 60s counterculture and arts scene. In 1969 he became a part-time structures tutor at the Architectural Association and started working with Moonrock, a radical children’s workshop, staging multimedia events at the Roundhouse in London’s Camden Town. In the early 70s he formed a partnership with ex-Arup architect Dominic Michaelis which designed conversions, steel-and-glass houses and the world’s first working solar-powered balloon. By the mid 70s, while working as a freelance engineer, he took over the AA’s diploma technical studies department. In 1976 he found himself sharing an office there with Mark Fisher. And the rest, as they say, is rock ‘n’ roll history.

That year Mark and Jonathan built a set of inflatable sculptures for Pink Floyd's 'Animals' tour and in 1979 they designed the Pink Floyd arena show 'The Wall'. In 1984 they formed the Fisher Park partnership, which was best known for the artistically and technically innovative concert stages it designed for A-list performers like Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, George Michael, The Rolling Stones and U2. Fisher Park’s portable architecture projects include many of the most complex stadium rock shows ever toured. In 1994 the Fisher Park partnership was dissolved.

In the years after Fisher Park, Jonathan worked on a number of shows and projects, perhaps most notably the light installation which is the highlight of the Landschaftspark Duisberg Nord, a 180-hectare park incorporating industrial heritage, nature and a spectacle of light. For many years he divided his time between London and his house in Connemara in Ireland.

I worked at Fisher Park along with Jonathan in the last five years of the partnership, and on a few projects in the years after. He could be driven and difficult but was always extremely creative and generous to a fault, with seemingly boundless energy, endless inventiveness and an immense drive to be working. It’s hard to imagine he’s finally stopped.

The work of Mark Fisher and Jonathan Park continues to be celebrated annually at the AA though the Mark Fisher Scholarship, established in 2015. The scholarship supports students of exceptional talent and interest in the intersection of architecture, performance, media and engineering. Find out more about the Mark Fisher Scholarship


Images: Pete Smith

 

Geoffrey Salmon (1925-2020)

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AA graduate and former Council member Geoffrey Salmon has sadly passed away. One of the stellar students of his generation at the AA in the post-war years, Geoffrey went on to lead a long and successful career focused especially on office design and sheltered housing.

Soon after graduating with AADipl(Hons) in 1952, Geoffrey joined the practice of fellow AA alumni Michael and Inette Austin Smith (AADipl 1947). He was made a partner in 1956, and the practice changed its name in 1963 to Austin-Smith Salmon Lord Partnership.

In an interview with David Attwood (C20 magazine Issue 3 2012) Geoffrey remembers that the 1961 Offices Act brought a lot of work to the practice. He went to Germany to study ideas that had been evolving there since the 1950s, which informed much of his later work. Unlike the open-plan American office, partitions and large plants were used to create differentiation and privacy. Within just a few years, the practice grew to 50 staff or more. 

In 1969 Geoffrey left Austin-Smith Salmon Lord, and established Salmon Speed Associates with John Speed, based in North London. They continued to specialise in office design, but also developed long-term relationships with charities providing care for elderly people, for both new-build and refurbishment projects. Their experiences were drawn together in Geoffrey’s Caring Environments for Frail Elderly People, published in 1979, and a book published the same year for the Design Council, The Working Office, which gave practical advice on designing and equipping small offices. The practice’s Slough Estates Headquarters building (1975), with a mixture of open-plan and cellular offices, attracted much favourable coverage when built and was put forward by the Twentieth Century Society for listing in 2009. Geoffrey retired in 1989, the year that his eldest son Julian died. 

In retirement, as throughout his life, nature provided Geoffrey with his greatest spiritual solace. He spent many weeks every year at his Dartmoor home, painting or making etchings of the landscape and immersing himself in the history of Dartmoor.

Geoffrey remained a loyal Member of the AA throughout his life, and he devoted considerable time and energy to this institution, serving on AA Council from 1966 to 1971 including two years as Hon Vice-President. In 2010 Geoffrey generously donated a portfolio of 120 drawings and photographs to the AA Archives, comprising work from his 2nd to 5thyear of studies at the AA. This was complemented in 2015 with a wonderful oral history recording, in interview with two AA students. The drawings have been researched by many and will continue to help future generations better understand the work and the thinking of the period.

Geoffrey is survived by his wife the sculptor Charlotte Mayer, his daughters Antonia & Louise, and a grandson, Joshua Richardson, who is currently studying architecture at Liverpool University.

Caption to the photograph: 

Image caption: Geoffrey Salmon, possibly 45 years old looking quietly suave (photo by Charlotte Salmon, nee Mayer)

Further reading:

A recent interview with Geoffrey Salmon

 

 


 

Gerald Levin (1934-2020)

We are extremely sorry to report that AA Past President Gerald Levin has passed away aged 86 after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Gerald Levin joined the AA as a Member in 1958, having arrived in London from Cape Town at the age of 24. He was a founding partner of RHWL in the 1960s, a practice that became synonymous with arts and theatre projects, responsible for designs such as the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham (1982) and Saddler’s Wells in London (1998). Gerald was in charge of some of the practice’s housing projects including the acclaimed Earlstoke Estate in Islington (1972-76). After retiring from RHWL, he set up Gerald Levin Associates and continued to work on private residential projects until very recently. He served on AA Council for 10 years, including two years as AA President (1985-87). He became an AA Life Member in 2009.


 

Michael Sorkin (1948-2020)

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Michael Sorkin was a mentor and a light to many of us; a true agitator of architectural discourse, he kept architects closer to the streets, to the social and political issues of our time.  

Below are two contributions from Michael's friends as well as a note that Michael sent to the AA in 2014.

The following tribute was written by Eyal Weizman, AA Alumnus and Tutor:

Locked down in stunned, helpless isolation with the exit sign switched off, I heard that Michael had died, without a warning or a goodbye. The contemporary prophet of public space and urban conviviality died in a hospital -- one of the last places where physical proximity is still possible, indeed, unavoidable. The virus diagrams the kind of social interaction that Michael championed in a vibrant city that has now nearly totally closed down, the price of human contact having become too high.

On the evening when the horrible message arrived, the people of our London neighbourhood, seeking some form of communion, stood each at their own window to clap for the medical workers like those who were by Michael’s side in his last days, risking their lives to try to save his and ours. Michael was our family friend—Alma, my daughter, was spoilt being his god-daughter—and so we were at our window, simultaneously sobbing, clapping and hitting pots with wooden spoons, giving Michael the send-off we thought he’d appreciate. The rest of the mourning must be done in isolation—and my heart goes out to Joan who cannot benefit from the proximity of those that loved them dearly.  

Michael was also my architectural godfather. In a number of small but crucially corrective interventions, he put me on my path. He read my books when they were still drafts, giving comments, helping find titles and publishers. Only a few weeks ago he took the time to campaign for me when I was not allowed to travel to the United States, just as he often did for others less privileged.

We met in 1994, when, as a young admiring student at the Architectural Association, I was one of those campaigning for him to be the new director of the school. When Michael finally won the vote and got the post, he decided to decline it, opting instead to pursue his own singular path: he set up his studio, founding the research organisation, Terreform, the publishing imprint UR (Urban Research); and became the Director of Graduate Design at the City College, where he was Distinguished Professor. In short he constructed on his own a polymorphous entity through which to realise various aspects of his wide urban visions. At the same time, he continued to advocate his ideas in a stream of essays and books, and to sketch them in numerous visionary schemes and drawings. (Many of the latter are still unpublished, but Joan assures me that they will be coming out soon.)

Drawing on the vocabulary of 1970s New York activism, he expanded the spectrum of architectural and urban action: sit-ins, town-hall-meetings, petitions, appeals, the writing of codes and bills of rights. Learning from his struggles with the kind of New York developers that now run the US, he brought his sense of urban justice, and feisty activism to Palestine, Northern Ireland and the US-Mexico border. Since architecture was part of the problem, it owed a certain debt and Michael encouraged architects to pay up by inventing solutions.

In 1998, an impish trickster, Michael seduced a group of Palestinian and Israeli architects and other intellectuals to a conference on occupied and segregated Jerusalem at a lakeside villa in Bellagio, Italy. It was here that I first met Suad Amiry, Rashid Khalidi, Omar Yusuf, and Ariella Azoulay. We listened together as Michael insisted, more optimistically than most of us, that we could use architecture to do something about this injustice, although he understood that, by itself, unaccompanied by the fundamental political changes we must all struggle for, architecture could do very little. His subsequent book-projects on Palestine “The Next Jerusalem”, “Against the Wall,” and “Open Gaza” demonstrate what he meant.  

He was right, at a time when the grip of architecture tightens all around us, when the builders of walls, towers, and digital surveillance systems are in charge, and when authoritarianism is using the global health emergency to encroach on our civil liberties—we all need to channel something of Michael and continue the fight. He will now bring his to gods and angels. Go on Michael, give them hell!

 

This piece has been contributed by Katharine Heron, Professor Emeritus, University of Westminster - 

I first met Michael Sorkin around 1974 at the AA when we were both invited as first-time  teachers to join a remarkable group compiled by Graham Shane, and the following year we taught in a second year unit with David Greene.  Michael was extraordinary – brilliant in so many ways – as a writer and critic, as a teacher,  highly literate in political and cultural matters, and a skilled draughtsman with exceptional taste.  He was hilariously funny, warm and generous, gregarious, and bounding with energy and enthusiasm. His political criticism was acute, accurate and fearless without mercy.  In his early career, he paid a price for his criticism of establishment figures,  and found himself constantly working between jobs – teaching but not tenured yet giving high profile lectures, writing, entering competitions, and developing his studio.  As his international reputation grew, he travelled widely, and his Studio gained reputation as it became established.   His projects were both research and rhetorical, but he wanted them to be realised.  Over several decades he produced a series of brilliant books, and a mass of exquisitely developed projects, but it was the work in the Studio that was tragically cut short.   He was a great friend over forty years, and his capacity for friendship included so many.  The last time we saw him in New York, we sat with Joan on the rooftop of their apartment drinking champagne as the sun went down and the lights of the Brooklyn Bridge came up as if a theatre - on-axis but off-grid.

 

We would also like to share a note Michael sent us when he was made an AA Honorary Member in 2014: 

I truly wish I could be there with you now to personally express my gratitude for this great honor.  At the moment, I am sitting in my third studio review of the week in New York and could certainly could use a drink!  

Being invited to join the membership of the AA has very special meaning for me.  As many of you may know, I had the opportunity to become Chairman some years ago and – for personal reasons – was forced to decline.  This is surely the greatest regret of my life and for years I was unable even to visit London, never mind to pass through the portals of Number 36.   Ever since I discovered this marvelous place at the Summer Session of 1971, it was a dream to be part of it and it was a great gift to have had my first teaching experience there a few years later. The AA changed me - and the way I look at architecture - and I will, to the end of my days, lament the fact that I could not repay this debt by helping change it with my full energies.  

Perhaps the future will hold other opportunities.  At any rate, I now, once again, feel quite comfortable in the bar and hope to see many of you there in the near future.  First round on me!

Again, my deep thanks.  You can’t imagine how happy this makes me.  

Cheers!


 

Paul Koralek (1933-2020)

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AA alumnus and co-founder of ABK architects, Paul Koralek, has died aged 86. Paul joined the AA in 1951. His desk in first year was positioned alongside the desks of Peter Ahrends and Richard Burton, and a close friendship began that was to last a lifetime. After completing their AA Diploma in 1956 they gained a scholarship to explore the architecture of Turkey and Persia for 5 months. Arriving in Isfahan unannounced, they knocked on the door of an older AA alumnus, Ali Baktiar, who welcomed them in his home and hosted them for 6 weeks. A beautiful record of that stay was published years later in 2016, with photographs by John Donat who joined them on the trip.

After brief periods working for Powell and Moya and for Marcel Breuer, in 1961 Paul Koralek won a major competition for the Berkeley Library at Trinity College, Dublin, which prompted the three friends to come together to form Ahrends Burton and Koralek, and over the following four decades they went on to make an important contribution to higher education architecture in the UK. Paul was responsible for the Arts Faculty building, also at Trinity College, a building for St Andrew’s College, Booterstown, and Portsmouth Polytechnic Library amongst others. ABK won the competition for the National Gallery extension in London, which was infamously described by Prince Charles as a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved elegant friend” triggering the commission of the existing extension by Venturi Scott Brown. They were also instrumental in the first stages of master planning for the AA’s Hooke Park campus, bringing Frei Otto on board to collaborate with them on the design of the prototype house (now the Hooke Park Refectory) and the main workshop building.

Paul passed away on 7 February 2020 and is survived by two daughters, Katy Ricks and Lucy Linderoth. Any AA member or alumni wishing to get in touch with the family and/or to attend the funeral in Sussex on 5 March should contact the AA membership office on membership@aaschool.ac.uk for further information.


 

Robert Millar Maxwell (1922-2020)

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The AA is sorry to hear that Robert M (Bob) Maxwell, teacher, author, architect and dear friend of the AA, passed away on 2 January 2020.

Bob Maxwell was Emeritus Professor of Architecture at Princeton University for 11 years from 1982 and he taught at the Bartlett for 20 years before that. He first entered the AA in 1958, where he was Year Master until 1962 whilst working as an architect in London. He joined the L.C.C. where he worked on the Royal Festival Hall extensions and later, as a Partner in Douglas Stephen & Partners, he participated in the design of the Brunel Centre, Swindon, and apartments at Highgate. He remained close to the school throughout his life, serving on the AA Council 1963-65 and 1977-80 (including a year as AA Vice President), and he returned to the AA after Princeton to teach the history of Modern architecture course from 1994 to 2006. He was elected an AA Honorary Member in 2012.

Bob died suddenly in his beloved Aix-en-Provence (France). He had been on very good form, at various parties with family and friends over Christmas.

The Architectural Association has launched an appeal to install a piano dedicated to Bob Maxwell in the Front Members’ Room at the AA. Donate at: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/a-piano-dedicated-to-bob-maxwell


 

Edward Cullinan (1931-2019)

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‘The design of buildings is a social act…Design and building of necessity involves co-operation.’

Edward Cullinan Architects, 1965

On long car journeys with his uncle Mervyn as a boy, Edward Cullinan (forever known as Ted) was encouraged to study architecture, rather than become a doctor like his father and grandfather. These active observation sessions along the Kingston bypass clearly took root.

Having obtained an Anderson and Webb scholarship to attend the Cambridge School of Architecture where he was introduced to Modernism, Cullinan decided to migrate to the Architectural Association for his final two years of study. The AA marked a great shift from Cambridge; Modernism was not taught by rote, but rather was being actively advanced by a host of young, practising tutors. Taught principally by Denys Lasdun, with whom he would go on to work, and Peter Smithson, Cullinan was given room to develop his own expressive response to modernist pedagogy. 

In 2010, reflecting on a pilgrimage made by bicycle to Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp in 1955, Cullinan stated that he had ‘no idea that architectural form could reach this level of sophistication and profundity and feeling’. It was the ‘feeling’, however, that would resonate most significantly throughout his life and career. Tempered by the experiments of Modernism that were, he believed, ‘always done on those who can’t protest’, his political inclinations towards libertarian socialism and anarchism permeated his deeply human architecture and catalysed the establishment of his office, Edward Cullinan Architects, as a co-operative in 1965.

Departing from the machinic precision of his tutors, Cullinan developed an architecture that was driven by social and ecological imperatives. Westminster Lodge, at Hooke Park in Dorset, with its green timber frame and collective system of inhabitation, succinctly embodies the principles that have remained so critical to the design work of the office. Though originally designed for the Parnham Trust in 1995, the AA purchased Hooke Park in 2002 and as such the building has inadvertently become an intrinsic part of the fabric of the school, continuously occupied to this day.

Cullinan was amicably derided by Smithson as being ‘a bit hand-knitted’ for his woody, un-polished architectural sensibilities. Such qualities, however, were the result of careful design, driven by a desire for beauty, social equality and ecological sustainability. His meticulous eye, not just for architectural form but also for human sensitivity, his fluency in translating ideas through drawing and his desire to develop knowledge in others saw his inspirational and highly influential work recognised with a RIBA Gold Medal in 2008. It is for these reasons that his office was for many years ranked as the most respected practice in the country, and for which Ted Cullinan himself, as a manifestly generous and modest individual, will forever be remembered.

 


 

Charles Jencks (1939–2019)

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‘He is one of the fixed stars of the critical firmament now, almost certainly doomed to receive an AIA medal and – dammit – he's 42!’

Reyner Banham, 1980

Declared an enfant terrible early on in his career, Charles Jencks never did suffer the fate of unanimous institutional and professional acceptance predicted by his mentor. As a perpetual trend-spotter, polemicist and critic who remained obsessively up to date, he endured as a ‘historian of what happened between his last two heart beats’ and, throughout the course of his life, continually outran the younger and more terrible enfants that approached from behind.

Having moved to London in 1965 to pursue his PhD at University College London with Reyner Banham, Jencks began teaching at the Architectural Association in 1967 as part of the Department of Arts and History. Later becoming General Studies under Alvin Boyarsky, the prospectus notes that these courses ‘tend to reflect the enthusiasm of their organisers’ and that ‘no attempt is made to cover areas of knowledge, however useful or beneficial they might seem to be’. As an exceptionally committed and enthusiastic organiser, it is fair to suggest that Jencks’ courses were responsible for benefitting and improving the knowledge of countless students that passed through the school for more than two decades in his role as a tutor, and many more subsequently as he continued to give regular guest lectures.

It was at the AA during these years that two seminal events in his life almost coincided. Writing for the quarterly journal in 1975, Jencks first, and reluctantly, coined the term ‘Post Modern’. Though initially dissatisfied with the negative prefix, the capital P and M were put in place and the hyphen would soon follow as ‘Post-Modernism’ took on a life of its own, guided, moderated and interrogated by its godfather. At around the same time, Jencks met Maggie Keswick, a student at the school. The pair went on to work together in designing the extraordinary Garden of Cosmic Speculation at Portrack House and other landscape projects, as well as the first of the Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres following her terminal diagnosis with the disease in 1993.

Dedicated eternally to plurality, complexity and the capacity of architecture to ameliorate lives at both a personal and societal level, the legacy of Charles Jencks will no doubt be as diverse, as rich and as filled with enthusiasm as his life and career.

Image Caption:
Former AA Tutor, Charlies Jencks (1939-2019) Obituary


 

Arefeh Sanaei (1991 – 2019)

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It is with the deepest regret that we inform the AA School Community, alumni and our global family of the sad passing of Arefeh Sanaei (AA Dipl 2019).

Arefeh was a deeply loved member of our student body since she entered the First Year in 2011, and pursued her design projects and AA studies with a deep passion and commitment through the Second and Third Years with Samantha Hardingham, David Greene and Valentin Bontjes van Beek.  Undertaking her Diploma studies with Kate Davies, Liam Young, Samantha Hardingham and John Walter, we all shared her joy just a few short months ago in June when she was awarded the AA Diploma for her Fifth Year project undertaken with Ann-Sofi Ronnskog and John Palmesino.

Arefeh really loved doing collages, she was proud of her work - arefeh-sanaei.squarespace.com

As the AA was such an important part of Arefeh's life, so too was she in ours. Our thoughts today are with Arefeh's family as they mourn the loss of their beloved only daughter. On behalf of her many, many AA friends I extend our deepest sympathies at this saddest of times.

Farewell dear Ari.

Thank you for your beautiful smile and for enriching our AA world.   

You will always be in our thoughts and forever in our hearts.


 

Enrique Limon (1962 – 2019)

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Enrique Limon, or Rick to those who knew him, sadly passed away in New York on 20 September 2019 after complications with colon cancer. Rick graduated from the AA’s DRL programme in 1997, following previous studies at Columbia University and University of Southern California, and he has been a professor at Pratt Institute since 2004. He was founder and principal of limonLAB, a Manhattan-based urban laboratory dedicated to experimentation in architecture and design, and an associate of GroundLab, the collaborative platform directed by AA Landscape Urbanism tutors Jose Alfredo Ramirez and Clara Oloriz. A memorial service has been organised by family and friends on 26 October 2019, the day of Rick’s 57th birthday, from 4 to 6 pm at Higgins Hall in the Pratt University Brooklyn Campus, to which everyone is welcome.

(Image: Courtesy Pratt)


 

Navid Maqami (1959 - 2019)

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Alumnus and AA Member Navid Maqami, prolific New York architect and cofounder of S9 Architecture, has sadly passed away aged 59 after a yearlong battle with cancer. Born in Iran and raised in the United Kingdom from age 13, Maqami joined the AA in 1979. He studied two years under Stephen Gage from 1980 to 1982, and graduated in 1984 from Peter Cook and Christine Hawley’s Diploma Unit. He moved to New York in 1987, where he has been responsible for some of the city’s most celebrated projects of the last decade, including the recently completed Dock 72, towering 16 stories above the East River in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.


 

Ranieri Fontana-Giusti (1962-2019)

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The AA extends its deepest condolences to alumna and former tutor Gordana Korolija Fontana-Giusti on the passing of her husband, AA alumnus Ranieri Fontana-Giusti. Ranieri graduated from Peter Salter’s Unit at the AA in 1993 and worked in Rome for Massimiliano Fuksas and for Fletcher Priest Architects in London, before joining KPF in the late 1990’s. Over the last 20 years he played a key role in developing KPF’s practice throughout Europe, with recent projects in Paris and Milan.

The following tribute was given by Jamie von Klemperer, President of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, at Ranieri’s funeral in March 2019.

I speak for the many colleagues at KPF who knew Ranieri the Architect, both as a designer and as a builder. He worked alongside of us for over 12 years.

We all knew there was something special about this man, something extraordinary. But what was it that allowed him to lift our spirits, not just in light-hearted moments, or on dull days of London rain, but even in the darkest of times? 

First, I think of Ranieri’s innate generosity, his kindness in teaching the younger architects who sat at their desks surrounding his workspace in our Covent Garden studio. They owed much of their happiness in the profession to his consistent care in tutoring, and his ability to encourage. When his health began to fail, one of his first acts was to enthusiastically coach a younger colleague to take on his responsibilities.  He spoke about the happiness he found in her success, never about his own misfortune. In this age of aggressive self-promotion, he instinctively put others first.

Second, I remember Ranieri’s love of beauty - his appreciation for the details of our physical world:  how the sun streams through the panes of a skylight, how angular shapes play off of each other in perspective. The exquisite hand drawings of his student days manifested this. The physical connections and geometries of buildings were especially important to him.

In our London office, Ranieri had established a small colony dedicated to French projects. As our Franco Italian representative, he made us feel at home on the Continent. His major works included a tower in Milan, a courtyard office building for the French Ministry of Justice, and the recently completed “Window”, a ground-scraper headquarters for the French national electrical authority situated next to the Grande Arche of La Défense. 

Ranieri pursued his aesthetic sense not only in his professional work, but also in his art. Through his photographs and paintings he searched for patterns and colours in nature, seeing the profound in the everyday - in the movement of water, the branches of trees, and the configuration of clouds. His Instagram posts traced an aesthetic voyage, as they also chronicled the path of his illness. 

Like many, I valued and admired Ranieri’s great gifts of loyalty. He stayed true to a clear purpose. He often expressed his love of his parents, his brothers, and the heritage of his Italian and French cultural backgrounds. His own nuclear family was the true centre of his life. When he spoke of Gordana and Sofia, a certain glint of light came into his eyes. He was so admiring of their accomplishments in Architectural Theory and in Pharmacology and took great pride when describing their successes. It was clear that he considered himself a very fortunate man. 

And I remember his strength: In Ranieri’s work as an architect he was not afraid to fight for what he believed to be right. He liked the sometimes contentious “sport” of building. He enjoyed the world of gritty sites, mud caked construction boots, and the builders’ colourful profanities. I recall him remarking with great admiration how one of our client representatives had learned to swear effectively in three languages. 

Ranieri brought this soldier-like strength and courage to his fight with cancer. Though only his family can understand the true bravery of this epic battle, his friends who observed this period of his life were also in awe of his fortitude and uncomplaining optimism, which he exhibited even in the most dire of situations. Those who witnessed his unfailing resolve, displayed over a period of two and a half years, were left with a profound sense of admiration and gratitude. Ranieri taught us all about the value of life, and the dignity with which we can hope to face its end. 

Finally, I’d like to say something about his grace and elegance. He lived in an era when most people don’t seem to understand the meaning of that concept. In his noble attitude and general bearing, he reminded me of the phrase of Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Ranieri was not bound by the limitations of the mundane. He seemed to search for something bigger, to rise above the commonplace.

In the time that I knew Ranieri, I sensed in him a quest for a lofty place. On sites in London, Milan, Paris, and Lyon, Ranieri devoted his efforts to the realization of tall buildings. The architectural project of which he was the most proud, the Tour First in La Défense, is the tallest structure on the skyline of Paris. He revelled in the triangular complexities of its plan, and marvelled at the laciness of its diaphanous pinnacle.

Similarly, in his art Ranieri expressed a special fascination with height. In small square compositions of textured colours, he clearly separated the ground from the sky. He painted strong horizon lines, sometimes brooding, sometimes calm. One got the sense that he was exploring something profound about our place on this earth.

One year ago, I took a long walk with Ranieri on Primrose Hill, the favourite place from which he could broadly survey the metropolis of London. He had good energy that day, and seemed optimistic about his condition. At the peak of the hill, we paused to survey the panoramic landscape. On that sunny early spring afternoon, looking south over parklands and rooftops to the glinting spires in the distance, his spirit seemed to soar like a bird. 

And that is how I will remember him.


 

Edgar Forrest Jessee (1977 - 2019)

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The AA is saddened to learn of the passing of Edgar Forrest Jessee (former AA student), who died peacefully Sunday 2 June 2 2019, surrounded by his adoring family.

After attending Parsons School of Design and the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London from 2003 -2005, Forrest received a Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

Forrest started his career at Mike Jacobs Architecture Inc. in New York and then went on to work with the design firm Diller, Scofidio, & Renfro. Forrest was a freelance designer for Columbia and Harvard Universities. His professional achievements include the creation of the Sleep Suit, the Little Free Library of NYC and the book design of The Lincoln Center, Inside Out as well as The High Line Book, receiving prestigious International awards for both of those works.

He was beloved and a genuine friend to all. He is survived by his parents, Dr. and Mrs. Edgar Forrest Jessee Jr.; sisters, Lindsay Jessee Slaughter (Matthew) and Sara Jessee Meredith (Massie); brother, Charles Blake Jessee (Michelle); nephew, Willis Rudd Parsons IV; and niece, Charlotte Rebecca Slaughter.


 

Khalid al Qasimi (1980 - 2019)

The AA has learnt that Khalid al Qasimi, son of Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the ruler of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, has very sadly passed away aged 39. Khalid was an AA student with Shin Egashira in 2000/01, before joining Central Saint Martins. In recent years he became a leading figure in the London fashion scene, his spring/summer 2020 collection showcasing at London fashion week only three weeks ago to great critical acclaim. His Qasimi studio sits between Tottenham Court Road and Morwell Street - overlooking the AA barrel vault - and he retained links to architecture through his work on the Sharjah Architecture Triennial and Sharjah Urban Planning Council. Our sincere condolences to the family, and to all the members of the AA community here in London and the UAE who will feel his loss keenly.


 

Peter Keith Collymore (1929 – 2019)

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It is with great sadness the AA learns of Peter Keith Collymore's (AADipl 1955) passing on 25 March 2019. This obituary has been written by Bob Allies, May 2019 - 

In 1962 Peter Collymore, who has died at the age of 89, formed an association with three other sole practitioners: John Winter, Michael Brawne and Charlotte Baden-Powell.

Conceived with the specific aim of allowing them - whenever the opportunity arose - to collaborate on larger projects, it failed to bear fruit in this way. It did however provide a basis for sharing space, staff (I was not unusual in working for all of them at some point), equipment, refreshments and jokes, in a relationship that was to last throughout their professional careers, and that would also survive two physical transplantations: one from Charlotte Street, in Fitzrovia, to Earlham Street in Covent Garden (then largely empty and abandoned), and a second to a converted ice-cream factory in Gospel Oak, still home to architects today.

Over the years, at different times, further architects congregated around them, including Adrian Gale, Patrick Hodgkinson, Peter Wadley, Michael Glickman, Edward Samuel and Dean la Tourelle, as well as Chris Cross and Adrian Sansom (with whom the Earlham Street studio was shared) and one non-architect, Victoria Thornton, then just starting out on the venture which was ultimately to evolve into Open House (now Open City).

What seems striking now is the way in which all this group of architects sustained delicately poised - and no doubt sometimes alarmingly precarious - careers, carefully balanced between practice, teaching and writing, an inspirational model for the itinerant group of young architects, like me, who worked for and around them. The friendly and informal atmosphere that the studio engendered was also one which entirely suited Peter’s character. Always interested, always supportive, and with an irrepressible cheerfulness, Peter was at once the ideal colleague and perfect employer.

Peter Collymore was the son of a Lancing College schoolmaster and having grown up in Sussex he also chose to return there when he retired from practice. But he went away to school - to Marlborough College - where his talent for, and pleasure in, art (and cricket) were nurtured, and where he first met Neave Brown, who was to become a life-long friend.

From Marlborough he went first to Clare College Cambridge, and then to the Architectural Association, graduating in 1955 in a cohort that also included Patrick Hodgkinson, David Gray, John Miller and Ken Frampton. From the AA, Collymore - like so many of his contemporaries -  went to the States in search of modernism, spending a year with Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, before returning to England and taking up a post with Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall and Partners as part of the team working on (the still remarkable) New Zealand House, in London’s Haymarket.Peter Collymore

Writing in the early 1980s about the association with Winter, Brawne and Baden-Powell, Collymore observed that they did not “specialise in any particular field of architecture, but tackle(d) all kinds of work, for a wide variety of clients from local authorities to private individuals”. It’s true, their work was diverse, both in terms of building type and physical location, but in Collymore’s case it was dominated by the private house, of which he built more than fifteen (including one for himself in Highbury Terrace Mews) and adapted many more. His particular interest in working with existing buildings was evidenced in the book he wrote for the Architectural Press in 1975 on ‘House Conversion and Renewal’.

But Collymore’s most important commission came when he was asked by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears to oversee a series of adjustments and extensions to the new home that they had recently acquired (1957) on the edge of Aldeburgh, the Red House. Among Collymore’s output at the Red House was a sturdy little brick cottage designed for the artist Mary Potter, but the most significant of his projects was the library and rehearsal room that he created for Britten and Pears. Now carefully maintained and looked after by the Britten-Pears Foundation, it is open to visitors. 

Collymore placed the new library on the site of an old barn, retaining part of the original walls as well as re-using the surviving pier footings as bases for his new timber columns, with their four outspreading arms. At once intimate and generous, the new space provided Britten and Pears with exactly the atmosphere they required.Collymore wrote about architecture throughout his career, guest editing four editions of the Architectural Review, and in 1982 he published a monograph on the work of Ralph Erskine, the product of a lengthy – and undoubtedly enjoyable – series of conversations between the two men.

Collymore’s appreciation of the work of others extended particularly into the field of painting, and before he died he gifted his collection – including works by Eileen Agar, Prunella Clough, Anthony Hill, Paul Huxley, Paul Nash and William Scott - to Pallant House Gallery in Chichester. A selection of the work was exhibited in the gallery under the title ‘An Architect’s Eye: the gift of Peter Collymore’ at the end of 2017.

Peter is survived by his sister Gill, who was for many years the editorial administrator of the Architectural Press.

Peter Collymore


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THE AA RECEIVES THE POWER TO AWARD ITS OWN DEGREES

The Architectural Association receives Taught Degree Awarding Powers by the Lords of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council.

The Architectural Association (AA), the oldest independent school of architecture in the United Kingdom, is pleased to announce that it has been granted the power to award its own degrees. As of 1 October 2019, the AA has the right to establish new academic programmes and degree awards and is working to create some of the world’s most pioneering courses in architecture to shape and build the future.

Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) give UK higher education institutions the right to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Prospective students worldwide can apply to the AA Foundation Course (Foundation Diploma), Experimental Programme BA(Hons), Diploma Programme (MArch), and nine taught postgraduate programmes encompassing History and Critical Thinking in Architecture (MA), Projective Cities (Taught MPhil) and Sustainable Environmental Design (MSc/MArch), amongst others.

AA Director, Eva Franch said, ‘since our founding in 1847 we have never ceased to create new horizons, institutionally and academically. This is a significant milestone for the AA and demonstrates how we have grown and progressed as an institution that has always valued independence. Receiving TDAP marks a new era for our institution; these are exciting times for the AA. The process has required considerable work from all members of staff and students. I would like to take this opportunity to credit them for this major achievement’.

President of the AA Council, Victoria Thornton added, ‘the TDAP process has recognised our strong governance, academic standards, scholarship and teaching as well as the environment supporting the delivery of taught higher education programmes’.

The School’s application for Taught Degree Awarding Powers was supported by the Architects Registration Board, the Royal Institute of British Architects and The Open University.

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